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Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 309
Experience:  Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
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Hello, I have a question to ask Child Psychologists.It seems

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Hello, I have a question to ask Child Psychologists. It seems that my 3-years old daughter has shown some bahavior similar to "selective mutism" after I consulting the speech therapist.   She can speak well with family members in home setting. However, She chooses not speak usually in a non-home setting when non-family members are around, e.g. daycare. She also chooses not speaking even when parents are around in a public place like shopping mall.


Please advise what we have done wrong, what has happened to my duaghter, and most importantly what we as parents can do to mitigate this behavoir so that she can feel comfortable to talk in non-home setting and becomes a happy child. Every evening when I pick her up from daycase and go home, she gradually changes her behavior like ice without speech to a little creek with smile and song on the way home.


Thanks a lot!

Hongwei, father.

Dr-A-Greene :

First off, you have done nothing wrong. This behavior happens all the time in well-adjusted, happy children. The trick might be just to find out why you think it started. Did anything change recently in her environment?

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The reason I ask is because selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that usually manifests after something has triggered it (e.g. beginning school, etc...) Generally speaking it would be beneficial to involve a therapist to help alleviate the anxiety and they will assist you in coming up with a plan for the daycare/school to implement. Other suggestions: when she won't talk, don't get angry - remain calm; don't enable the mutism, set expectations that she will "use her words"; routine and structure help with anxiety in children, so if she isn't on a schedule already, implementing one may help.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We had an oversea travel in this Janaury. After we returned houston on Jan 19, 2012, her bahavior was further developed, e.g. use her hand to cover eyes when she enters the school - in my view, she starts to develop some fear or shyness in the daycare that she has been to with good ease. this bahevoir change may reflect her anxiety that you have described.


Please elaborate -1) "implement a schedule" 2) what kind of therapist can really help alleviate the anxiety locally in Houston, Texas. 3) what' kind anxiety she has - how we can get to know insider her.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
will you provide answer on the additional information/question?

That's interesting. It could have been exacerbated by the travel a bit. Thank you for the extra information. For children with anxiety problems, a lack of a household routine can sometimes be rough. When travel or other unfamiliar events are interspersed, it can make problems worse. However, don't worry! This doesn't mean you shouldn't travel, it just means that implementing a set schedule (even while traveling) will be even more important.

1) Implementing a schedule starts with having a set time for events that occur around the house (if you don't do that already). Dinner, bathtime, bedtime, storytime, and wake-up time should be set so that she knows what to expect. Work daycare and therapy time into that schedule. The less she is surprised by events, the better. When you go on vacation, the same bathtime, bedtime, and storytime, etc should be continued, as possible.


2) There are many therapists in the Houston area - you are lucky to be close to so many services! Here are a few names: Michelle Puster, M.Ed.(NNN) NNN-NNNNext. 351; Judith Norwood Andrews, Ph.D.(NNN) NNN-NNNN or Matthew Whalen(NNN) NNN-NNNN All of the aforementioned therapists specialize in working with children and test for anxiety/learning issues.


3) The type of anxiety exhibited by selective mutism is best characterized as a Social Anxiety, meaning that it isn't felt globally in all situations. It is an anxiety about being around/with unfamiliar people. It is expressed through one of the only things she has control over - her speech. In time she will learn to manage it in better ways and she will be able to tell you when she's scared.


PS - to reiterate: you did nothing wrong. Anxiety is something that is a character trait - one is generally born with a high-strung personality or a laid back one. Your child may just have a more high strung temperament. The benefits to this is that people with higher anxiety tend to be more organized, more motivated, and more productive once they learn to manage it.


Good luck to you and take care,

Dr. G.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Just a little bit more backgroun: our oversea travel and schedule from Dec. 29 to Jan 17 in China has been a drama for her. We visited my family, particularly my father- her grandfather. He passed away on Jan 20th due to cancer - FYI.


- she has omitted 2-3 times on the bed in the night at three locations in China becuase we failed to control her diet , she then over ate some food, like chocalate, cracker, etc.

- she has poopooed once on the bed in the night, the shit spreaded to her body badly, which we have never seen before.

- She certainly lost her routine during this trip - we didn't pay close attention as I has paid most of my attention to my father at his late stage of cancer, has spent most of time with my dad in hospital.


Both she and my second baby Lucas have probably lost 2-3 pounds in this trip.

She probably has had a bad memory of the trip. Of course, there were some happy moments as well.


"It is n't felt globally in all situations" - can you explain this to me more?


Than you very much for your helpful tips, and recommendation on the specialist in Houston.


Best Regards,


Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your father. It must have been a very difficult time for you and for your children. I can completely understand how you wouldn't be able to keep up a routine with all that going on!

My guess is that the enuresis (wetting the bed) and encompresis (pooping the bed) were probably related to the stress of the trip and the change in diet. With her diet and environment back to normal, I would expect that she wouldn't be doing that anymore. If it continues, I would bring it up with the therapist too.

As far as the anxiety not being global, I meant that she probably feels her anxiety mostly in social situations that involve other adults (outside the immediate family) or school/daycare situations. If the problem really is selective mutism, as you suggested, she should return to normal when she's around just her close family (i.e. talking regularly). This is actually a good sign because that means that it isn't any sort of physical speech impairment or something like a stutter, which exhibits itself in nearly all situations.

I truly think that with a few modifications (like seeing a specialist and implementing a routine) she will be back to being a chatterbox in no time!

Again, I am sorry for your loss and I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX everything goes well for you and yours very soon.

Take care,

Dr. G.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Good news is that the enuresis and encompresis doesn't happen to her again after we returned Houston. They also recovered their weight in 4-5 weeks. Thank you for your advice!

I'm so glad! It sounds like they're healthy and doing well then. Just a little anxiety. Great questions - I wish you the best of luck.

And, you're welcome! Smile

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